Is there someone in your work life that is causing you pain?

There are some great books out on having difficult conversations.  My two favorites:  Fierce Conversations by Susan Scott and Crucial Conversations by the Vital Smarts team.  When I script leadership development activities, this is the #2 learning must for any new/current leader.  It is that important and it gets easier, but it is never that easy.

If I were a leader every time I looked around the room and realized more than half my team is new in the last 12 months, I would make a group learning assignment to read/reread one of these books as a team.  It could also be a gift for a new team member, and if you do that remember my gift giving advice!

Let me add another voice to this topic, a TED talk by Ash Beckham.  It is not specific enough to outline the skills of having honest conversations with people, but it certainly speaks to the heart of the topic.  I found myself laughing as she shared her own transformation to having more honest conversations.  Her voice is not academic – instead it is very real and that makes her advice/story relevant and helpful.

She started by controlling her own narrative first.  It would be a great follow-up to a book study group because many of the themes of the above books are captured in her talk.

A big part of having tough conversations is showing up often enough – in a focused manner – with your people to have all the other conversations that constitute a relationship. Habits around One-on-Ones and team meetings are critical to making this skill even more relevant and EASIER.

What makes tough conversations tougher is when, as leaders, those are the only time we show up to connect with our people.

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